Breakdown: Why you may be able to see “shooting stars” tonight

Breakdown: Why you may see shooting stars

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Sunday night skies will be mostly clear, which will be a great set-up for viewing the Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The meteor shower is most active through May 7. According to the American Meteor Society there is not a specific peak day with this meteor shower so the next few nights will all be good for viewing although in the Mid-South our best chances will be tonight. Clouds will increase Monday night and Tuesday.

These “shooting stars” are particles of Halley’s comet, as Earth will pass through the trail left behind by Halley’s comet. The left over particles from the comet that will be burning up this week, will originate from an earlier, closer pass of the comet centuries ago. This meteor shower is expected to move fast, at 42 miles per second. This means that it is expected to produce for long trails but only a few bright fireballs.

The farther south you go the better the viewing. For us in the northern Hemisphere they typically only produce rates of 10-30 per hour right before dawn according to International Meteor Organization. People in the southern hemisphere may see more over 40 meteors per hour.

How to view the meteor shower

  • Timing: After 3am up to an hour or two before sunrise
  • Get away from city lights and have wide view of the sky
  • Let your eyes adjust to the dark
  • Look towards the east and the “water jar” in the constellation Aquarius.

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